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Warren Commission Report: Page 555« Previous | Next »

(APPENDIX X - Expert Testimony)

place. When the trigger is pulled, the cocked spring drives the firing pin forward and the cartridge is fired. The face of the bolt boars a lip, called the extractor, around a portion of its circumference. As the bolt is pushed forward, this lip grasps the rim of the cartridge. As the bolt is pulled back, the extractor brings the empty cartridge case with it, and as the cartridge case is being brought back, it strikes a projection in the ejection port called the ejector, which throws it out of the rifle. Meanwhile, a leaf spring beneath the clip has raised the next cartridge into loading position. When the bolt is brought forward, it pushes the fresh cartridge into the chamber. The trigger is pulled, the cartridge is fired, the bolt handle is brought up, the bolt is brought back, and the entire cycle starts again. As long as there is ammunition in the clip, one need only work the bolt and pull the trigger to fire the rifle. 20


The clip itself is inserted into the rifle by drawing back the bolt, and pushing the clip in from the top. The clip holds one to six cartridges.21 If six cartridges are inserted into the clip and an additional cartridge is inserted into the chamber, up to seven bullets can be fired before reloading.22 When the rifle was found in the Texas School Book Depository Building it contained a clip 23 which bore the letters "SMI" (the manufacturer's markings) and the number "952" (possibly a part number or the manufacturer's code number). 24 The rifle probably was sold without a clip; however, the clip is commonly available.25

Rifle Cartridge and Cartridge Cases

When the rifle was found, one cartridge was in the chamber.26 The cartridge was a 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano cartridge, manufactured by the Western Cartridge Co., at East Alton, Ill. This type of cartridge is loaded with a full metal-jacketed, military type of bullet, weighing 160-161 grains. The bullet has parallel sides and a round nose. It is just under 1.2 inches long, and just over one-fourth inch in diameter.27 Its velocity is approximately 2,165 feet per second.28 The cartridge is very dependable; in tests runs by the FBI and the Infantry Weapons Evaluation Branch of the U.S. Army, the C2766 rifle was fired with this Western Cartridge Co. ammunition over 100 times, with no misfires. (In contrast, some of the other ammunition available on the market for this rifle is undesirable or of very poor quality). 29 The cartridge is readily available for purchase from mail-order houses, as well as a few gunshops; some 2 million rounds have been placed on sale in the United States.30


The presence of the cartridge in the chamber did not necessarily mean that the assassin considered firing another bullet, since he may have reloaded merely by reflex.51


Apart from the cartridge in the rifle, three expended cartridge cases were found in the southeast portion of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building, lying between the south

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